fabrics jul/aug 2002

BACHELOR STEW

My family had a simple recipe for satisfying the late night hunger of teen-agers. I never gave it a name until years later. After my son’s wife died, and he was learning to cook, I passed along the quick and easy directions:

1 pound of ground beef

1 large chopped onion

Salt and pepper to taste

1 large can of pork and beans

Directions: Brown the beef and onion in a large skillet. Season, then drain off the fat thoroughly. Stir in the pork and beans. Serve with saltine crackers.

This is easier than chili, and just as satisfying.

June (Apr. 02) says, ”After I sent you the article about Bachelor Stew, I got thinking about the family dynamic around Thanksgiving and Christmas. My mother took great pride in her cooking. NOBODY was supposed to outdo her in the kitchen. I never took much interest in cooking because I didn’t want to compete with her.

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YORKSHIRE PUDDING

I remember being a kid, sitting down to special dinners of roast beef or turkey with all the trimmings … especially York-shire Pudding. My father, who’d never gotten used to wearing his false teeth, was particularly fond of these little biscuits, which he could dip in gravy to soften.

“My mother used to make these,” he’d say, holding the biscuit up to examine its golden brown fluffiness, “She’d use the fat from the meat to grease the tins because we couldn’t afford real butter…”

And he’d go on to regale us with stories of how they’d gotten by during the Great Depression as we shared our meal. Sometimes, I admit, I felt that we weren’t much better off money-wise than our parents or theirs had been. I knew that Mom made the puddings as much for their ability to fill empty tummies as for their taste, but I enjoyed the biscuits and the stories that came with them.

Our grandparents, we were told, came from Yorkshire, in England. Grandma moved to Canada when she was a girl, in the ‘20’s, and while she didn’t bring much of material value with her, she did bring some of her family’s traditions and recipes.

“At New Years,” Dad said, “your grandmother would load the table down with all the food she could get her hands on. And if we didn’t have beef, it’d be squirrel or rabbit if we had to… because she believed that if you had a full table at New Years, you’d have enough food to eat for the rest of the year.”

When my father had grown and married my mother, they lived across the street from Grandma, and at Christmas and other special times we’d have meals together. Mom continued to make some of Grandma’s special foods, especially Yorkshire Puddings, even after we kids came along and we’d moved far from Grandma.

Later, when I’d grown and gotten married, it became my turn to put on the big meals, though sadly by then, Grandma and Dad weren’t around to share them. I remember calling Mom and asking her how to make Yorkshire Pudding. “I don’t know,” I said, when she asked why I HAD to have the recipe … but in truth, I’d wanted to make something special to re-mind me of family.

How she laughed when she tried to tell me ‘it’s so simple’… and then couldn’t remember the measurements because she’d been doing it by habit for so long. And though it didn’t al-ways ‘work out’ at first, I eventually got the hang of it just like she and Grandma had when they were young mothers, discovering just the right way to make them turn out ‘perfect’.

Eventually, Mom dug through her old recipes and found the little 3×5 cards she had the recipe on. It was all aged and browned from use, but she gave it to me to keep in the shoebox full of recipes I use, just like she did. And some day, I suppose, I’ll hand that card on to my daughter so she can share it with her family in turn.

Yorkshire Pudding

¾ cup flour ¾ cup milk

2 eggs [or 1 whole egg and 1 egg white]

(sprinkle of baking powder = optional)

Dirctions: Bake in greased muffin tin 350degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

TROR (Feb.’02) says, ”It’s an odd little quirk of mine, I suppose, but I never really feel I’ve made a new ‘friend’ until I’ve taken the time to ‘beak bread’ with a person. (Coffee and doughnuts don’t count!) Eating together is something that implies a certain level of comfort to me, a degree of trust or acceptance. When I do get to the point when I want to have a new friend eat with me though, it’s often something special like turkey and Yorkshire Pudding that I make… my way of saying, Welcome to the family.”

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RECIPE LEGACIES

Several readers sent responses to the Recipe Legacy survey. Reading each one open-ed a little window into knowing that person. Following are responses I received in time for this issue.

Two readers found popcorn their favorite comfort food. First, Cat (May ’02) says,“ My favorite comfort food is popcorn with lotsa’ butter.” Cat goes on, “I always felt loved when Grandma made her special applesauce. Our Thanksgiving meal wouldn’t have been complete without stuffing. When I come home after a hard day at work, the supper I most hope to smell cooking is beef soup/stew. My first recollections of helping in the kitchen are with my Gramma making applesauce. My favorite family recipe is Friatata and I am most well known for my recipe of homemade apple pie

.

Then, Helen B. (May ’02) agrees with Cat, stating her favorite comfort food is,

popcorn.” Helen goes on, “I always felt loved when Grandma made her special cookies. Our Thanksgiving meal wouldn’t have been complete without pumpkin pie. On my birthday I always asked Mom to make white cake. When I come home after a hard day at work, the supper I most hope to smell cooking is roast beef.

Helen is the only person in the returned surveys who cooks when angry. She says, “To get rid of my anger, I always pull out ingredients to make fudge.” Helen continues,

“ My first recollections of helping in the kitchen are with my mother making bread. My favorite family recipe is Ginger Cookies and I am most well known for my recipe of George Washington Cake.

New reader, Dottie is a widow who has a grown son and daughter. She still works (recently just part time) and is beginning to consider what she will do with her new “free time.” She opens a window onto herself, “My favorite comfort food is frozen pecan yogurt (like ice-cream). I always felt loved when grandma made her special blood soup.” Dottie echoes Linda Sue in AROUND THE FRAME, when she lists “fresh fruit salad” as the irreplaceable component of her Thanksgiving meal. She continues, “When I come home after a hard day at work, the supper I most hope to smell cooking is stewed chicken. My favorite family recipe is barbecued chicken sauce and I am most well known for my recipe of carrot cake.”

Julie B. (Apr. ’01) shares some of her family history,” My favorite comfort food is ice-cream. Our Thanksgiving meal wouldn’t have been complete without turkey with oyster dressing. As a child, when I come home from school, the supper I most hope to smell cooking is homemade Parker House rolls. My first recollections of helping in the kitchen are with my mother, baking cakes. My favorite family recipe is corn casserole and I am most well known for my recipe of whipped potato casserole.

Like Julie, another of our readers, MM (June ’02) lists a corn recipe among her favorite: corn dumplings! She says, “Our Thanksgiving meal wouldn’t have been complete without chicken and corn dumplings. In her survey she says, “My favorite comfort food is tomato soup. About her grandmother she wrote a note: “ My grandma wasn’t your typical grandma. I don’t even remember her cooking. I’m sure she did, but my grandfather died the year before I was born and she was a widow. She did have one redeeming quality, though. She had a guava tree and I had my fill of them and even brought them inside her house. Mom wouldn’t let them in our house because of the odor!” She finishes her survey with, “ My first recollections of helping in the kitchen are with my mom making Oatmeal Cookies. My favorite family recipe is Mom’s fried chicken ( Healthy-Ha!) I am most well-known for my recipe of Breakfast Bake. This is an “old” recipe of my friend’s grandmother and can be made ahead of time!”

Brunch Egg Bake

21/2 c. Pepperidge Farm Seasoned Stuffing, 1 3/4 c, milk, 8 eggs, 6Tbutter, 8slices bacon, ¾# sliced cheese (Cheddar, Swiss or Provolone)

Salt and pepper.

Directions: Soak 2c. stuffing in milk. Drain, but reserve milk . Beat eggs. Combine with reserved milk, salt and pepper. Melt 4T butter in skillet. Add eggs. Cook until runny. Add stuffing. Spread over cheese. Crumble 8 slices bacon on top. Prepare the day before using. Day of use, bake at 450 for 15-20 minutes.

Kathryn (Nov-Dec.’01) responded to the survey thus: My favorite comfort food is whatever I can find to eat in the refrigerator or cupboard.” About cooking with grand-mothers, she says, ”One grandma was an invalid. The other grandma would have my family for Thanksgiving dinner. Any Thanksgiving meal would not have been complete without pie enough for dinner and lunch later — always more than one kind.” She goes on, “ It never occurred to me I might hope to smell something cooking when I came home from work. That’s when I started cooking.” She says, “ I really can’t remember that I asked my mother to make something special for my birthday. Whatever she made was wonderful. She was an excellent cook.” Like Helen B., Kathryn comments on anger but not with a dish, “ If I am angry—look out—absolutely nothing is going to be made. On recollections, she writes, “My first recollections of helping my mother in the kitchen was drying the dishes for food I did not help make. I think she sensed I lacked ‘making’ skills. Continuing, she says, “My favorite family recipe was escalloped potatoes with pork chops on top. It was put in the oven Sunday morning when we left for church and was ready when we came home. So delicious.” She concludes the survey, “ I am most well-known—I think—for my brownies which I make from scratch.”

Several readers included recipes with their surveys. One was Lynn (Dec. ’96) who included her well-known-for recipe at the end. Her survey follows, My favorite comfort food is canned peas. I always felt loved when Grandma made her special “coffee” which was milk and sugar with a little coffee in it. On my birthday I always asked Mom to make pork chops. When I come home after a hard day at work, the supper I most hope to smell cooking is roast beef. Lynn agrees with Kathryn saying, “I don’t cook when I’m angry.” She goes on,” My first recollections of helping in the kitchen are with my mother making cherry jam. My favorite family recipe is red-eye gravy and I am most well known for my recipe of Monster Cookies.

MONSTER COOKIES

1/2lb. butter or margarine

2 cups sugar

1 lb. brown sugar ( 2 ¼ C.)

6 eggs

3cups peanut butter

11/2 tsp. Vanilla

1 ½ tsp. Karo syrup (white)

4 tsp. baking soda

9 cups oatmeal

2 cups chocolate chips

1 cup M&Ms

Optional: chopped nuts, coconut, raisins

DIRECTIONS: Cream butter, sugar, eggs, p. butter, vanilla and Karo. Add Baking soda and oatmeal. Add other ingredients. Drop by TBS. On cookie sheet and bake at 350 12 min. Do not over-bake. Yield: 10 doz.

GinnyLee, (Jan. ’02) de-signed and penned this survey. She tells us: “My favorite comfort food is mashed potatoes with brown butter: Mashed Potatoes with Brown Butter Make real mashed potatoes with half and half .2) Slowly brown BUTTER ( not margarine) Make little wells in potatoes and used browned butter in place of gravy. Note: This is an extended family recipe!

I always felt loved when Grandma made her special Ranger Cookies. Our Thanks-giving meal wouldn’t have been complete without Dad carving the turkey. On my birthday, I always asked Mom to make grilled chicken. When I come home after a hard day at work, the supper I most hope to smell cooking is ANYTHING! My first recollections of helping in the kitchen are with my sister making chocolate chip cookies. My favorite family recipe is peach cream pie and I am most well known for my recipes of rhubarb cream pie and apple cream pie.” Two of GinnyLee’s pie recipes follow. She says, “Pies are not hard! Here’s a pat-a-crust recipe you mix in a pie pan and shape with fingers. Anyone can do this in less than five minutes!

PAT-A-PIE-CRUST

Place following ingredients in 9” pie pan. 2)1 ½ c. flour, ½ c. veg. oil, 1tsp. Sugar, 2Tbls. Milk, 1tsp. Salt. 3) Mix in pan and form a crust using both hands. Add a little more oil if too crumbly to form. If recipe calls for a top crust, de-crease sugar in pie filling by ½ c. then mix these “crumbs” together and sprinkle to top of filling before baking in place of pie crust: 1) 3/4c. flour, 1/2c. sugar, 1/3 c. margarine or butter.

She goes on, “ Now, here’s a pie filling recipe that’s sure to please!”

APPLE CREAM OF (FRESH) PEACH CREAM PIE

Mix 3Tbls. (rounded) flour and 11/4c.sugar. 2) Add: ¾ c. half ’n’.half, then mix. 3) Place 21/2 c. diced or sliced peeled tart apples (like Granny Smith) in bottom of unbaked pie crust. Pour liquid mixture over apples. Liberally sprinkle cinnamon over top of apples. Bake 375 for 15 min, then 325 for 25 min or ‘til “set.”

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